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Marijuana laws: Wisconsin far from being another Colorado

Marijuana Laws.jpgAt least at some level, the debate on marijuana legalization seems to be going on in virtually every state of the country, Wisconsin not excepted.

A catalyst for that has obviously been what has played out recently in Colorado and Washington states, respectively, where voters approved -- with stated restrictions -- the legal use of recreational marijuana. Significant media fanfare attended the opening of marijuana retail outlets and the initial sales of state-sanctioned pot to consumers in Colorado earlier this week.

Additionally, and with clear growing momentum, state legislatures across the country are signing off on medicinal marijuana. Twenty one states now allow for such use, with others edging close to approval.

Wisconsin is not one of them. In fact, and as noted in a recent media article discussing Wisconsin’s drug laws, the state “has some of the harshest penalties for marijuana possession in the Midwest.” A person arrested inside the state for pot possession can face serious drug charges and a lengthy prison term for conviction in some instances. Indeed, a second possession offense in Wisconsin is deemed an automatic felony.

Amidst that backdrop, ongoing discussion continues regarding medical marijuana.

Should the state legalize it?

The answer to that obviously depends on who is being asked. Given the outcome of attempts in recent years to enact various versions of a medical marijuana bill into law, though, it seems starkly unlikely that legalization will become a reality anytime soon.

The legislative history bears that out: A legalization bill failed in the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2009 and was followed by the demise of a second version in 2012.

Such outcomes have led one Wisconsin newspaper to conclude that the effort to legalize medicinal pot “appears to be headed nowhere.”

Source: Baraboo News Republic, "GROWING SUPPORT: Medical marijuana bills remain stalled, despite unprecedented backing," Elizabeth Onheiber, Dec. 26, 2013

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